Evaluation of CRS and Vehicle Features Associated with Improved Top Tether Attachment Rates

Principal Investigators: Julie Mansfield, MS, The Ohio State University; John H. Bolte IV, PhD, The Ohio State University


vehicle crs

The top tether on a forward-facing CRS is an important safety feature that prevents the CRS from tipping forward in a crash. Unfortunately, a lot of parents and caregivers forget to attach the top tether when they are installing the CRS. We recruited 96 adults to install CRS to test a few variables—including the color of the top tether, whether the top tether is labeled or not, and where the tether is stored on the car seat—to determine if those variables can make the top tether easier to see and more intuitive to use during CRS installation.


Many of the subjects consulted the CRS manual and the vehicle instruction manual for guidance. We found that parents who used LATCH to install the CRS tended to have higher attachment rates of the top tether as opposed to those who used the seat belt. This showed us that those who took the time to understand the different hooks and latches on a CRS tended to understand what to do with the top tether. That was certainly encouraging. However, overall, subjects’ interpretation varied on how different parts of the CRS are supposed to be adjusted. There were no specific tether design features (such as tether color, labeling, or storage location) that resulted in consistently better tether attachment rates.


We will share our findings with industry representatives in CChIPS. Attaching the top tether is such an easy and beneficial thing to do, but a lot of parents and caregivers do not realize it exists or do not know what to do with it. We want to make the top tether a little more intuitive for them to use. We plan to brainstorm with the industry representatives about changes we can make to the CRS in order to improve top tether attachment rates and child safety.


Gretchen Baker, The Ohio State University; Kat Sikiric, The Ohio State University; Sydney VerDow, The Ohio State University; Yadetsie Zaragoza-Rivera, The Ohio State University

IAB Mentors

Keith Nagelski, Britax Child Safety, Inc.; Emily Thomas, Consumer Reports; Phil Pryzbylo,Goodbaby International; Anthony Rossetto, FCA US LLC; Mark LaPlante, Graco Children’s Products Inc.; Nick Rydberg, Minnesota HealthSolutions; Julie Kleinert, Emeritus Chair; Uwe Meissner, Technical Advisor